Warm weather is here, and for me, that means listening to tunes that evoke a certain feeling, have a certain vibe, and take me back to another time and place. Music means the world to me. New and old. New music you hear this summer will undoubtedly imprint indelible memories and feelings that you may not realize are meaningful to you until many years from now.
I discovered the following five discs on my own, and as each summer approaches, I find myself returning to them time and time again. Music is a very personal choice. It’s hard to articulate why the sounds of each of these recordings connect on such a visceral level. You’re either wired to loved it or simply shrug your shoulders.
Hopefully, you can connect to some or all of these picks in your own way, and return to them again and again and again like me.
KOSTARS: Classics with a “K”
This one-off side project from Luscious Jackson ladies Jill Cunniff and Vivian Trimble, recorded for fun between gigs, effectively captures the perfect laid-back summer vibe. Acoustic-based and atmospheric, the album hypnotizes with beautiful melodies and harmonies that make you want to swing in a hammock and sip a spiked lemonade to the background buzz of cicadas.
ELECTRIC GUEST: Mondo
This overlooked release features 10 infectious, hand-clapping, knee-tapping tunes from Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton, aka Electric Guest, produced by none other than Danger Mouse. Mondo breaks out of the gate with the debut single “This Head I Hold” — an incredibly upbeat, Bruno Mars-styled tune — and never lets up. This entire album slips through your brain and is over way too quickly, demanding repeat performances.
MORCHEEBA: Big Calm
Easily one of my Top 5 desert-island discs. The opening bars of “The Sea,” the first tune on this lounge-worthy record, accompanied by Sky Edwards’ smoky-smooth vocals, lull you into submission, then explode into a melodic, lush and well-crafted musical soundscape, courtesy of Brit brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey. Every track improves on the last in Big Calm, mixing funk, trip-hop, soul and smarts for a near-perfect summer night party soundtrack.
NOUVELLE VAGUE: Nouvelle Vague
Take some of the best tunes of the ’80s and set them to a funky Bossa Nova beat and you have NOUVELLE VAGUE. The moniker of French producers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, the pair employ sultry female French and Brazilian vocalists to do covers of such songs as The Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” XTC’s “Making Plans for Nigel” and even the Dead Kennedys’ rough-and-tumble “Too Drunk to Fuck.” Hypnotizing, fun, and perfect, beginning to end.
SUPERSUCKERS: Must’ve Been High
Of all the discs listed in this roundup, Must’ve Been High is probably the most different and an acquired taste: Start with a take-no-prisoners punk band, add a generous helping of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, smoke a joint and watch a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this album’s all about. The first “cowpunk” record ever made, Must’ve Been High represents the perfect summer thunderstorm of genre crossover achievement.
What music will you be listening to this summer?